This article was updated on 05-19-2017 by Kyle Wiggers to include new pricing and benefits.
The tired “dropped your smartphone in the toilet” cliche is really only funny until it happens to you, and the same goes for running your phone over in the parking lot or dropping it down the stairs. No matter how you slice it, watching your brand-new phone shatter, drown, or bend beyond the point of recognition is agonizing. The aftermath might be even worse, leaving you with an unusable phone that’ll cost hundreds of dollars to fix or replace.
Luckily, that’s where extended warranties come in. Most companies sell plans with benefits that go well beyond your device’s one-year warranty, such as accidental damage coverage, next-day replacements, and even remote technical support. However, not unlike the smartphones which they cover, not all plans are created equal.
To see whether they’re worth your hard-earned money, we’ve compared the benefits — and the price — of some of the most popular warranty programs currently on the market.
Phone manufacturer warranty plans
In recent years, more and more manufacturers have started to offer their own warranty programs. Some of them are better deals than others, though.
Here are a few of the most popular:
|AppleCare+||Device Protection for Pixels||Moto Care||Samsung Protection Plus|
|Cost||$130 for two years with iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 6S Plus||$100 for the Pixel and Pixel XL||$15 for the extended service plan, $40 or 50 for accidental damage coverage||$100 for the Galaxy S4, S5, and S6; $130 for Galaxy Note devices, the Galaxy S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, S7, S7 Edge, and S8|
|Accidental damage coverage||Two years||Two years||Two years||Two years|
|Mechanical damage coverage||Two years||One year||One year||One year|
|Deductible||$30 for a screen replacement; $100 for any other damage||$80||$40 or $50 for accidental damage, $40 or $50 for mechanical damage in the second year of coverage||$80|
|Claim limit||2 over the duration of the plan||2 over the duration of the plan||3 every two years||2 over a 12-month period|
|Eligibility window||Must sign up within one year||Must sign up within 30 days of purchase||Must sign up within 30 days of purchase||Must sign up within one year of purchase|
|New replacement device?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Other benefits||Free overnight shipping|
AppleCare+ is Apple’s long-running, $130 extended warranty plan for the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6S, and 6S Plus. It’s notable for having an incredibly generous eligibility window — you have a year after purchase to enroll, if you so choose. But providing proof of purchase is a bit of a hassle. You have to verify the date of your phone, and complete a check for pre-existing damage at either the AppleCare Contact Center or alongside an Apple Store employee.
A few of the benefits include:
- 24/7 priority access to AppleCare’s technical support, via chat or phone.
- Low service fees, such as $29 for iPhone screen damage.
- $0 for battery service.
- Apple-certified repair or replacement at Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers.
- Hardware service with genuine Apple parts.
- Software support for iOS, iCloud, and Apple-branded iOS apps.
- Hardware repairs and service backed by Apple.
AppleCare+ adds two years to your standard warranty, which includes protection against manufacturer-originated defects in both the iPhone and in-the-box accessories such as cables, power adapters, and headphones. More importantly, it covers accidental damage — if you break your iPhone, Apple will repair or replace it for a flat $30 (if you’ve only shattered the screen) or $80 (if you’ve damaged other components). It’s worth noting, however, that you can only make two claims throughout the duration of your plan.
Device Protection for Pixels
Google’s newly-implemented Device Protection for Pixels, which replaces the retired Nexus Protect program, is a lot like Apple’s AppleCare+. Only Google-branded smartphones — i.e., those in the Pixel line — are eligible for coverage, and if you don’t sign up at purchase time, you have an additional 30 days to enroll.
Device Protection for Pixels extends your standard warranty coverage against mechanical and electrical problems by a year and, like AppleCare+, covers accidental damage for up to two years from the original date of purchase. Device replacements, which include next-day shipping, cost $80, and you’re limited to two throughout the course of two years. However, unlike Apple’s offering, Device Protection for Pixels is a bit cheaper. It’s currently $100 for both the Pixel and Pixel XL.
If a Moto Z is more your style, Lenovo-owned Motorola offers its own protection plan. It’s called Moto Care, and it comes as in the form of an extended service plan and accident damage protection. Both require you sign up within 30 days of purchase.
The extended service plan starts at $15 and adds an additional year of protection against mechanical damage. The accidental coverage is more akin to Apple Care+ and Device Protection for Pixels, and gives you two years of damage coverage for $40 or $50 (depending on your device).
Coverage is a mixed bag, though. The accidental damage coverage is generous — you can make up to three claims over the course of two years and the deductible is rather cheap at $40 or $50. That said, Motorola charges a fee for mechanical failure. It’s $15 if you’ve got the extended service plan, and $40 or $50 with accident protection.
Samsung Protection Plus
Samsung offers its own barebones protection plan for Galaxy devices: Protection Plus. It’s $100 for the Galaxy S4, S5, and S6, and $130 for the Galaxy Note 3, Note 4, Note 5, Note Edge, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge Plus, S7, S7 Edge, and S8. It extends the device manufacturer warranty by a year, and provides protection against accidental damage for two years. You’re limited to two replacements within a 12-month period for accidental damage claims, and the deductible is a flat $80. Replacements are shipped overnight once approved.
The verdict: Convenient and good, but not for theft
The plans from manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and Google are comprehensive — and comparatively cheap. Though pricier than third-party plans, in some cases, they cover all kinds of damage, offer fairly low deductibles, and deliver replacements expeditiously. You can also count on quality service, since the repairs come directly from the phone maker instead of a third-party service. Unfortunately, however, no manufacturer covers lost or stolen devices.
If you have an iPhone, the convenience of AppleCare+ trumps the affordability of third-party offerings. Same goes for Device Protection for Pixels if you own a Pixel phone, Moto Care if you’ve got a Motorola handset, and Samsung Protection Plus if you purchased a Samsung smartphone. Phone makers generally offer quick shipping and new replacements for a much lower price than third parties, assuming they offer new replacements at all.
But ultimately, premium manufacturer warranties are device-dependent; an iPhone isn’t eligible for Moto Care, just as a Pixel device isn’t covered by Samsung. That said, if your next phone is one made by Motorola, the company’s Moto Care is one of the most generous manufacture warranties. It’s relatively cheap — $40 or 50 for accidental damage protection, with a maximum deductible of $50 — and allows you to file up to three claims over a two-year period. The only downside might be the charge for mechanical damage in the second year of coverage, which ranges between $15 and $50. But all things considered, Moto Care is one of the better deals around.